living

QUINOA QUEEN

If you know me, you’re SICK of me talking about quinoa. BUT I LOVE IT. I need a “QUINOA” shirt (in the style of the KALE sweatshirt) so I can broadcast my love. But I can settle for this blog post.

I probably got into quinoa about 3 years ago when I realized that I could swap things out of my regular diet for healthier substitutes without really making an effort. I just realized that I actually liked the texture of it. And then I said goodbye to white rice (my fellow Indians will know that this is a BIG DEAL) because a new sheriff was in town. And he sounded way more exotic.

Vegan Quinoa Risotto

In all seriousness, my shift to quinoa was more than just a simple diet change. It was a slippery slope into SUPERFOODS/health foods. At first, I was super skeptical because I thought it was just a food that made people look hip. I think I first liked it when it came as a side at Local Foods in my hometown (H-town vicious). Then, I was converted. And it got me thinking “what other, perhaps vegan/gluten-free, dishes/foods am I missing out on due to prejudice??”

For most of my teenage life, I was pretty unfit. I never really played sports or exercised (unless required PE classes counts). I did have a short 1 or 1.5 year stint semi-regularly going to 24 hour fitness, a gym that was walking distance from my high school, but I stopped that once I started college. And then I had to walk EVERYWHERE. But I also had fried, unhealthy foods available in the dining halls, just a swipe (of my university ID) away. Walking to classes when you really don’t want to and the weather isn’t usually agreeable isn’t the best way to fall in love with fitness. In fact, it’s the best way to turn you off of going to the gym. I just didn’t make time for fitness and on top of that I had so many new life stressors. My skin and my body were not happy about it.

When my mother moved to England at the end of my first year of university, I started visiting her regularly. Most summers were spent here in the UK. It was SUCH a game changer because I actually fell in love with walking. It’s amazing how much of a difference a change of scenery and climate makes. Within a mile of our new house there is…

  • an open field that is regularly mowed & attached to a small leisure center
  • a scenic and long canal with cute, traditional riverboats
  • a massive secluded forest free for public use but also an army training ground (my dog LOVES THIS PLACE)
  • a typical park with playgrounds and a coffee shop/cafe

There’s just so much to see and generally it doesn’t get too hot or too cold to walk (at least when I’ve been here in the summer & winter). In Houston, it was too hot. Or I always had an excuse not to go. I would ride my bike to my friend’s house (or go on hikes in Austin), but I didn’t consider myself active or healthy in general. I would be completely content sitting in front of my computer or on my couch, inside ALL DAY.

3 years ago, I started cutting out the junk. Also, I started to drink LITRES of water a day in order to combat my horrible skin. I never really ate fast food past the age of 13, so that part wasn’t hard. Though, I did make the occasional stress-induced Whataburger run during university. But here are some other tips…

  • NO SODA (straight no chaser? ok some exceptions)
  • NO WHITE/FAKE-LOOKING BREAD (not that bread is bad for you, I just don’t love sliced bread. or sandwiches. they don’t actually fill me up)
  • LESS SUGAR (still working on this one. But I only have dark chocolate now! I prefer it anyway).
  • Also, VEGGIES WITH EVERY MEAL. That was the best decision. I feel incomplete without a vegetable now.

My main thing when eating out or cooking is: only cook foods that I LOVE. Only buy/order things that I think are worth the calories and the fats and whatnot. If something isn’t actually that healthy and you don’t really love it, just don’t eat it. For example, I don’t eat fries because they aren’t my ride or die. I like them, sure, but I don’t love them. Unless they are of the curly variety. This makes eating out so much easier, because it narrows down your options and forces you to find restaurants that you maybe normally wouldn’t try (and might be more expensive, which decreases how often you eat out). And then eat controlled portions of the things you love (working on this one). Eventually, the majority of food I eat will be healthy & then I’ll have small amounts of treats. I’ll get there, but for now I’m eating mostly healthy food, just large portions of it.

Anyway, now I find that if I start my day with a protein-rich, vegan, green smoothie (maybe I’ll post recipes but there are so many out there that you can try. Just search!) I have way more energy for my morning workout and I don’t snack unnecessarily because I don’t feel hungry. If I don’t eat healthy in the morning, I’m more likely to slip during the day. And then eat relative rubbish. I say relative because I’ll basically eat like too many nuts or healthy chips (like sweet potato chips) and hummus. Not horrible, but totally not okay in excess.

So yeah, coupled with exercise (running, yoga, pilates are my fav because I don’t need any equipment), eating things like quinoa can change your outlook on your energy. I’ve never been an afternoon napper (though they aren’t bad for you), but I realize that my circadian rhythm slump (around 2:30-3) doesn’t happen anymore. I really didn’t want this to be a cheesy “healthy life!” post, but looks like that’s what it’s going to be. I never thought I would like running (and I still don’t sometimes), but the longer you do it, the better it feels and the further your body can go. So, I’m sticking with it. And taking it slowly.

Also, I bought fun/bright workout gear from TK Maxx (UK version of TJ Maxx) recently so that’ll help. Good clothes make me happy and happy people don’t shoot their husbands.

Love,

Young Lion

P.S. I could also be called a Chia Chica (okay I hate myself too) because chia seeds are another superfood I love. I just like the texture and they go in all my smoothies.

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